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Does your horse obey the bit or you?

Most people are afraid to ride their horses bareback much less with just a halter.  A sure fire way to test just how good your partner is listening to you may be to ride without the bit in their mouth.  

Of course there is a right way and a wrong way to go about this but you just might be surprised at how responsive your mount is to you.  

Inspired by Stacy Westfall, the gal who can ride her horse with nothing on the horse, I was encouraged to test the water, or I should say my horse. 

We have been a team for about 4 years and I think we have a pretty good repour going. For instance, I found out that he responds to praise better than harshness.  In scary situations he is encouraged when I talk softly to him, saying things like, “you can do this, it will be okay.” Of course there are times he will test me and  when I raise my voice he immediately responds to me.  

I decided that I would test him and see if he really was obeying me or the bit.  It is of course very important to do this work in an enclosed area. A riding arena is ideal but a round pen or a ring would suffice. I started out riding him bareback with his bridle on. At first he was a little confused feeling my butt on him. He didn’t seem to know what to make of this. 

We started out at a walk, circling the arena a few times. We then tried a trot or in our case, his gait. After a few times in the arena over a period of weeks, I decided to remove the bridle and work with only his halter and the reins attached to the side buckles. Again he was a little hesitant but  just in a curious way.

We started out at a walk, when I felt he was comfortable with that I tried some basic moves like backing up and figure eights. It went better than I expected so I thought I would try some of the things we had been working on like side passing.  He did very well. I was encouraged.

Mary Abraham
Published on 09-07-2019
My name is Mary Abraham. I will be 80 yrs old this Nov. I have been riding since I was in my 30’s . That was the first time I could afford a horse. I belong to the “Caloosa Saddle Club in North Ft. Myers, Fl. We have about 50 members give or take. We meet once a month starting in Sept. and ending in May. We have speakers ranging from vets to saddle fitters, with many speakers in between. We are primarily trail riders. We have 6 local parks and we have been instrumental in securing these. We are always working with local 20/20 organizations to promote a good relationship with public land and the local equestrian community.